Thursday, September 6, 2012

Open City

Well, El Jefe wanted to knock this one out before decamping to Sun Valley to visit Blondie.  Plus, the book discussion won't take too long....  Thanks to Logan's Run for hosting this evening, and to the Highlander for making up for lost time on the apps!  With none other than William Jefferson Blythe Clinton (a mouthful, ha ha) on low volume in the background, we caught up over a bountiful cheese and charcuterie platter and all the reasons we should re-nominate the Pres for another four years.  Just think:  in two more books time, we will have ushered in the fourth presidential term of The Club of Books!  From our first meeting on Bronson in 2002 (George W. Bush's first term) to our regularly-scheduled meeting on the first Wednesday of the month, November 7, 2012, the day after we pick the 45th president of the United States (assuming no protracted election contest as a result of dangling chads).  What a lot has happened!  Maybe to lend us some historical gravitas we should start referring to our books like, "The Confessions of Max Tivoli was the 10th book of the 2nd term of George W. Bush."  Dinner was a fresh pea and mint puree soup, with tomato and buratta crostini.  And then luscious, creamy banana pudding with wafers and fresh blueberries in individual ramekins for dessert.  Lish!

A Book Club staple

Open City by Teju Cole scored about a 5.75.  However, that rating may not be entirely accurate.  If this novel were a stock on NASDAQ we're refer to it as "thinly traded," and may question whether the reported price truly reflects the value of the company.  Let's call this book "thinly read."  To be specific:  only 2 of 9 BC members got up the gumption to make it to the end, and only 3 of 9 felt that they had read enough to proffer a rating.  Wow!  End of summer should have been the perfect time to leisurely read (and complete) an acclaimed novel.  What gives?  In a nutshell, this book was too just damn slow.  Although beautifully written, it meandered all over the place, stopping to muse over such disparate topics as the attack on the World Trade Center, immigration, mental illness, the collapse of "old economy" stalwarts like Tower Records, race relations, bedbugs and global warming.  As the Doctor said, "The story really doesn't get going until page 50 when Julius ambles over to 143rd street and has a revelation about a flock of pigeons."  That email was more or less the death knell for those who already were skeptical about the esoteric ramblings of this book.  To be fair, while Julius' ruminations were insightful and poignant, he, as a character, was too academic and removed for readers to connect with.  This book's strong suit was being a calm and relaxing read if you had no places to go and no people to see, with all the time in the world to just give in to its gentle discussions.  And for anyone who lived in New York, it looks out upon the city through a particular lens, then lens of a black (but lighter-skinned due to being mixed Nigerian and German), single male professional, who is acutely aware of the legacy that race and politics have left on the City's history.  You truly get a sense that although the City hasn't always been "open" to everyone in terms of opportunity, it is "open" to exploration and experience and will reveal much to someone like Julius who makes an effort to learn its secrets.

Our next regularly-scheduled meeting is Wednesday, October 3.  Host TBD.  The October and November books are, in order, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, and Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell.  Until next time, read early and often!  xoej

Slick Willie:  B.C. B.C.

Circa The Hours--young and vital

Circa Infidel.  Ouch.  Did we age that much?!

Circa Home
Circa Cloud Atlas?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gone Girl

Thanks to Ms. K for jumping in to host August's BC, featuring, full details below, one of the all-time great BC meals.  (Hint:  it did not come in a pizza box!)  We started out with grilled corn, crema Mexicana and cilantro crostini, and if anyone thought it couldn't get better than that, drum roll please:  build-you-own chicken salad sandwiches.  Sounds deceivingly simple, but El Jefe must linger just a moment to relish the memory.  Fresh cibatta rolls, topped with home made chicken salad chock full of pecans and walnuts and flavored with tarragon, with your choice of garnishes, accompanied by heirloom tomato caprese with a balsamic reduction, and... sigh, ruffled potato chips.  Heavenly.  El Jefe rushed straight to Trader Joes (not actually that night, but the next morning) and the balsamic glaze was out of stock.  But perseverence pays off, and it's now in the pantry Chez Jefe.  This just may be one of those rare discoveries--like cubed pancetta (thank you, Blondie)--that could revolutionize la cocina Jefe.  And then the mixed berry pie a la mode that tasted like it was straight out of the oven--from Whole Foods!  Ah, what a lucky time and place in which we live.  Can't wait to chow down tomorrow!

Grilled corn, crema Mexicana and cilantro crostini

On to the book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  This book scored a perfect 7, to the decimal.  Big points for the entertainment and shock value.  This story kept reinventing itself with unexpected plot twists up until the last page.  Part One set up Nick and Amy's characters:  him, the hunky, flirty New York party guy, her, the sappy, frail wife who would take solace in her diary when Nick bailed on their wedding anniversary to hang with his guy friends.  Some even thought that the book got off to a slow start.  It was hard to tell what was going on or what to make of Nick's behavior in the wake of Amy disappearing.  After all, is there a "right way" to act when one's spouse may have been murdered?  Part Two addressed the question of whether there's a "right way" to act 100% psycho?  Apparently there is.  As the story unfolded, all the expectations from the beginning were turned upside down.  Part Three dealt with what happens to a totally creepy high school ex-boyfriend who thinks he can control the psycho.  Oops.  Whether this was great literature is debatable (not really), but it certainly was a fun summer read that didn't require too much discussion and left us ample opportunity for our other favorite BC pastimes, namely eating and trying on jewelry!

Tomorrow's meeting is at Logan's Run's house, and we are reading (hopefully have read) Open City by Teju Cole.  If you haven't gotten to page 75, you don't know what you're missing!  Bring your LOD suggestions!  xoej

Not seeing it...

Nope, can't see it.

Still no.

Ah, yes, now that's more like it.